New England @ DenverCorrell Buckhalter
's high ankle sprain figures to keep him out for two weeks. He's almost certainly not playing Sunday. The torch will be passed to rookie Knowshon Moreno
, whose average of 19 touches per game in the last three weeks strongly indicates that coach Josh McDaniels trusts him as a featured back. The Broncos have a highly favorable matchup at San Diego in Week 6, so Moreno could possibly capture the starting job permanently if he capitalizes on both matchups.
Bill Belichick has limited his opponent's hottest weapon for the last two weeks (Tony Gonzalez
had 1-16 in Week 3; Joe Flacco
was held to a season-low 5.6 YPA in Week 4). Brandon Marshall
is it for the Broncos, but remains impossible to sit because of his talent, increased snaps, and rejuvenated on-field play...Look for Eddie Royal
to stay quiet, however, as he continues to run clearing routes so the other Denver skill players can churn out yardage. Royal is a decoy until proven otherwise.
Fullback Sammy Morris
is supposedly going to be the main beneficiary of Fred Taylor
's (ankle surgery) indefinite loss, but New England employs a matchup-based rushing attack that can prevent any runner from topping 10 touches in a given week. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
is the real sleeper for an increased role. He'll be active on game days now, and is quite possibly the Pats' best option in short-yardage situations.
I received an email asking if Randy Moss
should be benched "because he's going against Champ Bailey
." The answer is no. Bailey stays on the left side of the formation, and few receivers move around as often as the Mossman. He'll see plenty of RCB Andre' Goodman
and rookie nickel back Alphonso Smith
will play despite continued knee woes. He caught six balls playing "injured" last Sunday and the Broncos won't stop him in the slot.Sunday Night FootballIndianapolis @ Tennessee
Joseph Addai injured his hand in Wednesday's practice, and it limited his reps for the rest of the week. He's "questionable" on the injury report. Should the Colts' coaching staff deem the injury a threat to Addai's ball security, Donald Brown will see more touches. This isn't a matchup to get excited about (Tennessee's 2.8 YPC against is second in the NFL), but Brown is already passing Addai for red-zone opportunities and is relied on more heavily in crucial situations. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen's trust in the rookie will soar if Brown can have a productive game.
The Titans have both starting corners back, but RCB Cortland Finnegan (hamstring) did little in practice this week and isn't 100 percent for a tough matchup with Reggie Wayne. Finnegan held Wayne to four catches for 44 yards combined in their two meetings last year, but won't keep it up on a bum wheel...This should be the last missed game for Anthony Gonzalez (knee) before the Colts' Week 6 bye. That means Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie will resume being fantasy non-factors in Week 7. Use them while you still can against the league's leakiest secondary.
An eighth-ranked Colts pass defense that has allowed just two TDs (third least in the NFL) and 5.6 YPA against (third best) will make things tough on struggling Kerry Collins. However, this should be a fairly high-scoring game with lots of throwing regardless. That's good news for Titans leading receiver Kenny Britt, who doesn't start but is already a better player than Justin Gage and will play often Sunday because the Titans will likely roll out frequent three-receiver sets. Nate Washington, Tennessee's go-to red-zone wideout, is also worth a fantasy start.
However, the only way the Titans win Sunday is if they get the football to Chris Johnson 25+ times. Indianapolis' run defense is mediocre (16th in the league, four TDs allowed) and continues to shuffle its front seven (LBs Gary Brackett and Freddie Keiaho, DLs Dwight Freeney and Raheem Brock) due to injury...Don't expect to see much of LenDale White if this game is close, which we're tentatively expecting. His more powerful style would seemingly give the smallish Colts matchup fits, but LenDale does not play when Tennessee is behind or the game is on the line.
Monday Night Football
NY Jets @ Miami
Braylon Edwards is the perfect fit for the Jets and will contribute immediately because he's played in schemes like coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's for the bulk of his career. New York's terminology is the same as former Browns offensive boss Rob Chudzinski's and current Browns OC Brian Daboll's. Jerricho Cotchery's (hamstring) potential absence may thrust Edwards into the No. 1 receiver position right off the bat...Cotchery is a full-blown game-day decision and isn't worth waiting for this late unless you have Edwards on your roster. Jerricho's inability to practice Friday was a red flag.
Dustin Keller's value takes a minor hit with Edwards on the club, but it's not a death blow. The Jets' trade indicates that they are willing to throw more, and it isn't like Keller will lose snaps. He may even see more underneath looks with slot man/flanker Chansi Stuckey gone...Jets coach Rex Ryan was displeased with Schottenheimer's underuse of Leon Washington in Week 4, and for good reason. The sparkplug back had just eight touches against the Saints. Ryan likely gave Schottenheimer a mandate to use Washington more going forward. Look for him to outproduce Thomas Jones in this one.
The Jets will load up to stop the run on Monday night, leaving Miami's receivers in man coverage. The Fins took an extremely run-heavy approach last week, with top blocking WR Greg Camarillo playing the most snaps while Ted Ginn Jr. and Davone Bess were quiet in the box score. They won't be able to do that in this game. While Jets lockdown CB Darrelle Revis shadows Ginn, look for Bess to resume an every-down possession role, racking up short catches against Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery...Chad Henne was purely a game manager in his debut start and will continue to be "eased in." He's not a two-QB league option against the No. 5 pass defense.
Ronnie Brown is the No. 5 fantasy back so far, but a game like this could go down as a real disappointment. He continues to share the backfield with Ricky Williams on a roughly 60:40 basis, and that won't change soon because Ricky has been effective. For Brown to get 20 touches, the Dolphins must dominate the time of possession battle. They can do that on weak-to-mediocre run defenses like the Colts and Bills, but it's a lot to ask against Rex Ryan's pride and joy.